How to Choose a Gaming Monitor (updated for 2017)

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Samsung S34E790C – 34-Inch Curved WQHD Cinema Wide

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So you’re thinking about getting a gaming monitor, and you probably have lots of questions. How big should your game screen be? What’s the best 4K display on the market? Do you even need 4K? Should you go for a cheap gaming monitor, or is it worth it to spend a few extra bucks? What does WQHD mean? Can you get away with a 120Hz refresh rate monitor, or do you need 144Hz? What is pixel response, and why should you care? How can you avoid getting a monitor that will give you blurring and motion artifacts?

SIZE

When you’re talking about the best size for a gaming monitor, bigger is almost always better. Along with size, however, you need to think about resolution. FHD, or Full High Definition, refers to 1920 pixels by 1080 pixels, and you need a monitor that’s at least 24 inches in order to get FHD resolution. In our opinion, FHD is the minimum resolution you should be looking for – anything less will get in the way of your gaming performance.

WQHD, or Wide, Quad High Definition, is the next level of resolution, and at 2560 pixels by 1440 pixels, you need at least a 27-inch monitor to achieve this display quality. WQHD is a great middle-of-the-road choice… it’s not a budget option, but it also won’t break the bank.

UHD (sometimes called 4K UHD) stands for Ultra High Definition. At 3840 pixels by 2160 pixels, you’ll need at least a 30-inch monitor for UHD resolution. Be prepared to pay more for this option, but your gaming performance will thank you!

PANEL TECHNOLOGY

What is panel technology, anyway? Panel technology refers to the type of technology that creates the display on  your monitor.  There are three basic types: TN, VA, and IPS.

TN, or Twisted Nemantic, technology tends to be the least expensive. Although the colors in TN displays are slightly duller than in more expensive technology, TN displays have great pixel response and refresh rates.

VA, or Vertical Alignment, technology has more vibrant colors, but is more likely to produce blurred images or ghosting effects.

IPS, or In-Plane Switching, technology has brilliant color and can be viewed easily from almost any angle, but IPS monitors have a slower refresh rate than TN monitors.

PIXEL RESPONSE AND REFRESH RATE

For satisfying gaming and smooth movement, you need a pixel response of 1 to 4 milliseconds. 1 millisecond is ideal, 4 is acceptable.

Your monitor’s refresh rate should be a minimum of 120Hz, and 144Hz will make your game-playing extra sharp. (You may be able to run games on a 60Hz monitor, but you’ll likely have blurry images when there’s lots of movement.)

WHAT ELSE?

Go for dual HDMI inputs. A great gaming monitor will also have USB inputs, and powerful speakers to help you get the most out of your gaming experience.

COMPARISONS

Monitor Size Resolution Pixel Response Refresh Rate Price
ViewSonic XG2701 27″ FHD 1ms 144Hz Get Price
Acer GN246HL 24″ FHD 1ms 144Hz Get Price
Acer GN276HL 27″ FHD 1ms 144Hz Get Price
ASUS VG248QE 24″ FHD 1ms 144HZ Get Price
ASUS VG278HV 27″ FHD 1ms 144Hz Get Price
PRISM Korea M280PU 28″ 4K UHD 1ms 144Hz Get Price
ASUS MG278Q 27″ WQHD 1ms 144Hz Get Price
ASUS PG278QR 27″ WQHD 1ms 165Hz Get Price
Acer XB280HK 28″ 4K UHD 1ms 144Hz Get Price